Overseas Briefing

By Guest Contributor

Six weeks ago I stepped out of the airport with a suitcase, two backpacks and new passport stamp. Having overconfidently thought that I could survive the Argentine “winter” in sandals after spending two J-terms in Vermont, my toes immediately froze in the crisp breeze. I gazed with envy over at the Argentine girls fashionably sporting Ugg boots with their leather jackets and made a mental note to invest in some close-toed shoes. The heat and humidity of North Carolina hadn’t followed me to the southern hemisphere.

Living in Buenos Aires and thinking, living and breathing in Spanish 24/7 is simultaneously fun, challenging, rewarding and exhausting. To give my adjustment a little context: I’ve been hanging out with Vermont’s cows in the Organic Garden for the past two years and spent my childhood in a small southern town where the biggest event was the annual Labor Day BBQ Picnic. Needless to say, transitioning to life in South America’s second largest metropolis has been an adventure. For starters, I’ve given up on introducing myself as Sayre and have learned to love the name Sarita. It’s easier than explaining my name as “pronounced like slayer, but without the L.”

Learning how best to take advantage of the city’s public transportation has also been a tricky adjustment. Although I need to leave myself at least an hour to get anywhere in the city, I can arrive at nearly any destination by Subte (metro) or Colectivo (bus) for about 31 cents, and it gives me time to knock out a few pages of reading and get in some solid people watching. In spite of the ease of the Colectivo, I typically shell out a few extra pesos for night transportation and take taxis after 11 PM. While the park by my apartment is my go-to place to run during the day, transvestite hookers are known to strut their stuff and linger on street corners after sundown. But it’s all part of the experience, right?

Buenos Aires nightlife and dining have presented me with equally unique experiences in relation to college life in Vermont. My nighttime schedule is far different from a standard Saturday night quilombo (translation: hot mess) at Midd. My host family sits down for dinner and Malbec at around 10:30 p.m., which is already go-time by my American college student standards. While at Midd, I like to hit the sack by 3 a.m. at the latest. Here, however, I was laughed at by my platform tennis shoe-wearing Argentine friends for trying to sneak out of a birthday party at 4:30 a.m. I learned soon enough that rolling into bed as the sun starts to peek through the morning clouds and sleeping until empanada lunchtime is how the Argentines do nights out.

It’s strange to think that I won’t be waiting in line for the panini machines in Proctor or stealing a quick nap in the dangerously comfortable red and blue chairs in Bi Hall when classes start this week, but at the same time it’s incredible to reflect upon the relationships and experiences I’ve already had in the past month and a half. Whether it’s waking up in the middle of the night, ecstatic at the realization that I was dreaming in Spanglish, mustering up the courage to pose a question in class or the fact that I’m on a first name basis with the staff at my two favorite cafes, I have found that venturing outside of my comfort zone and outside of the Middlebury bubble can be immeasurably entertaining and rewarding. Suerte con el semestre and see you fools in Play-Term.

Written by SAYRE WEIR ’15 from Buenos Aires, Argentina

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